Join us outside the Middlebury Hannaford this Sunday May 1 at 11:30 a.m. alongside farmworkers demanding humane labor standards. For three years, Migrant Justice VT has led a campaign to urge Hannaford to join Milk with Dignity, a worker-driven program that ensures respect for farmworkers’ human rights in their supply chain. If Hannaford joins Milk with Dignity, the farms that source Hannaford store-brand dairy would be required to implement farmworker-created labor standards, such as fair wages, breaks, housing and safety protocols. Hannaford would pay a premium to farms as they transition to new labor standards, ensuring the financial burden does not fall on individual farmers.
According to Migrant Justice, 40% of farmworkers are paid less than the VT minimum wage; 40% have no days off; 28% routinely work seven hours or more without a break to eat; 20% have their pay illegally withheld; 15% do not have eight consecutive hours off, per day, to sleep; 15% live in overcrowded housing; and 15% have inadequate heat. The Milk with Dignity Program invites corporations like Hannaford, which are profiting from the dairy industry, to take responsibility for changing these conditions. In 2017, Ben and Jerry’s was the first company to join Milk with Dignity. As a result, 71 farms implemented just labor standards, comprising 20% of Vermont’s entire dairy production. It is time that Hannaford follows Ben and Jerrys’ lead.
Hannaford has delayed action for too long. They have the power to change an important aspect of the food system, yet refuse to do so. Their negligence comes at the expense of our neighbors who simply want basic rights in the workplace.
May 1 is May Day, also known as International Workers Day. In a time when workers across the country are addressing labor exploitation from their employers, it is important that we do not lose sight of our commitment to all workers’ rights. Here at Middlebury College, student workers have been advocating for better wages, from ResLife to dining services to MiddView. Staff and professors have also been trying to organize for better wages and working conditions.
To student and non-student workers here at the college and those allied with them: Let’s not forget about the workers that keep Vermont’s dairy industry alive. We’re in this fight for just labor together! Visit go/maydayaction/ for rideshare information on carpooling and how to support. Also follow @migrantjustice and @middmwd on instagram to stay up to date. See you at the Hannaford in Middlebury at 11:30 a.m. this Sunday, May 1.
Andrés Oyaga ’23 and Molly Babbin ’23 are members of the Middlebury Milk With Dignity collective.